Dear respected Guests, Journalists and human rights activists, I welcome you on behalf of Libya Watch to this conference that is being held in London on the first annual memory of the Murder of the Libyan Journalist Mr. Daif Al-Ghazal.
This paper, prepared by Libya Watch, well focus on the most important aspects of the struggle of a journalist who sought to publish the truth for the sake and wellbeing of his country. Having equipped him self with nothing more than his pen and papers, he faced the onslaught of militias that know no language except that of abduction and murder. It is the biography of a journalist who lived for the sake of a pure country, clean from corruption in all its forms; political, economical and social.
The Libyan Journalist Mr. Daif Abdulkareem Al-Gazal was born in the city of Benghazi to the east of Libya in the year 1976. His father is a descendent of the "Al-Shahibat " tribe, a prominent Libyan tribe that resides in the eastern parts of Libya. His Mother is from "Al-Hauara" tribe which is equally famous.
He studied at the University of "Gar Younis" and received his degree in history from the Literature department.
Daif Al-Ghazal joined the "revolutionary committee movement" early in his life. This movement was set up by the regime to propagate its ideology based on the green book amongst school and university students. These students were forced to attend the gatherings and conferences of this movement.
Daif Al-Ghazal joined the "revolutionary committee movement" through ideology camps at the end of the eighties. In the early nineties Mr. Al-Ghazal joined the Benghazi new "Mataba" ("Mataba" is the name given to the building occupied by the party of the revolutionary committee. This buiding was previously used for detention and torture). Mr. Al-Ghazal advanced within the ranks of the revolutionary committee movement until he was appointed media and culture co-ordinator which was an important and leading position.
Mr. Al-Ghazal worked as a journalist and was appointed as chief editor of the Green March "Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar" in its office in Benghazi due to his ability to elaborate on the theory of the 1st of September revolution and to which he was passionate. The Green March "Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar" is the official news paper of the revolutionary committee movement
Differences between Daif Al-Ghazal and extremist of the revolutionary committee movement began to appear at the beginning of the new century. His differences were clearly manifested in his writing which he published in the Green March "Al-Zahf Al-Akhdar" newspaper.
Daif Al-Ghazal wrote his last article in the revolutionary newspaper before he announced his resignation from the newspaper, under the title "a persistent call to moderation and expulsion of fifth columnist. In this article he wrote 'Why do revolutionaries slaughter each other and why do they apply methods of security personals in eliminating one another (their colleagues). Is it because of authority? How so when we believe that authority belongs to the people and it cannot be abducted in favour of a tribe or two. Everyone is invited to rethink their position.'
It was evident that Daif Al-Ghazal was living his last days with the revolutionary committee movement and it appears that he was rethinking his position as he had written. His opponents, who could not tolerate his writings, were preparing for a battle that would prove harsh and cause him his life.
One of the most important laws applied inside the revolutionary committee movement is that once you enter you will not be permitted to leave especially if you had been given leading positions and had had access to the secrets of that movement. This movement is today labelled an oppressive movement that has committed vast atrocities against civilians. Colonel Gaddafi himself has recently admitted to such atrocities committed by the movement.
In 2004, Daif Al-Ghazal delivered a lecture that caused much controversy amongst members of the revolutionary committees. The lecture was delivered at the Green Book Research Centre and was about corruption. In his talk he suggested setting up a public society to oppose corruption and he repeated this in a broadcasted interview in the programme "A call to dialogue".
This courage and transparency of his and his criticism of corruption and even his threat to publish what documents he has about wide spread corruption and oppression which he made in newspapers and especially the internet, in which he found great release, lead the revolutionary committee extremist to fight him viciously and especially members of the revolutionary committee of "AL-Berka" in Benghazi (Libya Watch holds names of some of these revolutionary members who opposed Daif Al-Ghazal due to his writings and their fear that he will carry out his threat and publish documents and evidence that may prove their involvement in corruption)
At the beginning of 2005 Daif Al-Ghazal tried to put his name forward for election to the presidency of the Journalist Union. He was unable to get elected after an election of "Tassied" which was described by journalists as forged so as to prevent Daif from being elected.
Daif Al-Ghazal revealed on 27th February 2005 to the electronic newspaper 'Libya Today' "Libya al-Yaum" which is based in London that he was the victim of oppression and undue process because of his articles, criticism and reports. He wrote 'I was one of those subjected to oppression and undue process in that it included interrogation and judgement mainly because of my articles and journalistic reports which I carried out about all that harms my society. This included unlawful acts and procedures which burdened the poor workers more than anyone else. These facts were supported by documents and without the help of the union.'
Daif Al-Ghazal announced then that he will not be resubmitting an appeal as it was obvious that the Libyan leadership had no wish to correct the direction. He said: 'I which to announce to 'Libya Today' newspaper that that I have no personal desire to submit an appeal and should the appeal submitted by my colleagues be upheld then I will not be submitting me name for elections as I am certain that it is useless unless there is a desire by the pillars of the Libyan authority to correct the crocked direction'
Due to this announcement, Daif Al-Ghazal was called to the office of communication with the revolutionary committees where he was interogated.
Despite receiving numerous threats from those he assumed to be hard core revolutionaries, Daif Al-Ghazal continued to write in a strong challenging manner and each time he would increase this challenging tone and would end his articles with the term ' I shall return if I am safe'. He wrote these articles in 2004 and 2005 and exposed these threats in electronic newspapers published from outside Libya on the internet as the official newspapers would not publish them. Most prominent of these web cites is 'Libya Today' and 'Libya Jeel'.
On the 21st of May 2005 Daif Al-Ghazal was abducted by two armed individuals who announced that they were from internal security as he returned from visiting a friend of his and was in the company of another journalist by the name of Mohamed Al-Marghani. This was near one of the farms of the "Huary" area. There is confusion as to what has become of Mohamed Al-Marghani and his whereabouts.
When his family enquired about him at the police stations and security centres all denied any knowledge of his whereabouts.
On the 30th of May 2005 the family of Daif Al-Ghazal were informed by the "Gar Younis" police station that an unknown body was found and requested them to come to identify this body which had its hands bonded and was beginning to decompose which indicated that the killing took place immediately after the abduction and the body was in such a state that the family of Daif Al-Ghazal could not recognise him at the beginning.
Daif Al-Ghazal was buried on the 3rd 0f June 2005 in an atmosphere of sorry that overwhelmed the Libyan journalists and his friends from the cities of Benghazi and Tripoli.
The autopsy report, obtained by Human Rights Solidarity, confirms that death occurred by unlawful means a number of days before discovery. And that Daif Al-Ghazal was killed by a bullet fired to his head causing fracture of the skull, smashing the brain and causing haemorrhage which lead to heart failure and the stoppage of the blood circle and the respiratory system.
Despite the fact that the autopsy reported omitted mentioning important details about the body such as the type of weapon used, the distance from which it was fired and whether he was tortured or not, it is considered a preliminary positive step by the government in accepting that Daif Al-Ghazal was murdered unlawfully which will enable his family to seek information about the crime from the courts.
Witnesses have reported that their were sever signs of torture on his body including bruises in sensitive areas, knife stabs, his clothes were torn and some of his fingers were amputated, a clear sign that the abductors wanted him to be a warning to anyone who opposes them or thinks of criticizing them in the media.
The Libyan government chose to remain quite for 15 days, specifically from his abduction through to the discovery of the body and his burial (from 21/05/05 to 03/06/05). The Libyan minister of Justice then announced that Al-Ghazal was found murdered and that he was a descendent from Egypt. This was abhorred by Al-Ghazal family and relatives.
Despite the fact that it's been a year since the abduction and murder of the Libyan journalist and despite promises made by the minister of justice to reveal the circumstances of the killing and the adoption of the case by Saif Al-Islam the head of the Gaddafi Institute for development, Al-Ghazal family, public opinion and human rights activists still ask: If those who committed the crime have been caught, as claimed by the authorities to the family of Daif Al-Ghazal, the w ho are they and why are the names of the accused not revealed and why are the not handed over to the courts?
This information, based on evidence meticulously gathered by Libya Watch from sources Libya Watch likes to keep unanimous for fear of reprisal against them, strongly points to the fact that the murderers of Al-Ghazal were not ordinary people but are members of the vicious militia that operates in one of the security apparatuses and that the orders were given to liquidate Al-Ghazal after he decided to open wide the political and economical corruption files in Libya. This is evident in the manner of his abduction and the type of car used in this abduction for, in Libya, such an operation can only be carried out by those who worked for the security or the revolutionary committees.
Daife Al-Ghazal would not have met his end had the Libyan authorities been firm once he started expressing his fear of being abducted or killed. This carelessness, by the Libyan government, in dealing seriously with this situations casts doubt as to whether the Libyan government is implicated in this crime.
I would like to end this paper with quotes from the writings of Daif Al-Ghazal which he wrote only one month before his death in which he says:
It may be that I would be subjected to a severe attack in the Green Square (most famous square in Libya) or in Ben Ashour Street or in the Shajara (Tree) square or the Al-Baladia (Municipality) square. It may be that I will be placed behind bars of insult and abuse by a false witness who has no connections what-so-ever with Libya..!!??
It may be that I would be stabbed with a dagger in betrayal by prisoner who has received the highest and most precise certificates in crime…and who became liberated for his "Good Conduct"! It may be that I would be involved suddenly in a horrific, painful and strange accident in the streets of our abducted country or in its desert roads by a truck driven by a high ranking army officer,,!!??
It may be that a hanging platform would be set up for me in pretence of treason. In one of the squares of the Universities or during the break between two halves of a match between "Al-Ahli" and "Al-Naser" or between "Al-Ahl" and "Al-Itihad" or in a closed hall full with compelled people forcibly amassed..!!??
Dear real brother citizen… let it be known that despite all this and besides it gives me great pleasure to continue to highlight places of corruption and enemies even if horrible militias should demolish the home of my family..!!??